Labor secretary resigns 'to begin a new future'
January 9th, 2013
04:22 PM ET
1 year ago

Labor secretary resigns 'to begin a new future'

Washington (CNN) – Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis resigned her post Wednesday, offering no specific reason but that she "enjoyed my first opportunity in years to reflect on the past and my future" over the holidays.

"Leaving the department is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, because I have taken our mission to heart," she wrote in a letter to colleagues obtained by CNN. "As the daughter of parents who worked in factories, paid their union dues and achieved their goal of a middle class life, and as the first Latina to head a major federal agency, it has been an incredible honor to serve."

Solis provided no date when she would step down, but Labor Department officials told CNN her departure is expected around the inauguration, which is later this month.

"Over her long career in public service – as an advocate for environmental justice in California, state legislator, member of Congress and Secretary of Labor – Hilda Solis has been a tireless champion for working families," President Barack Obama wrote in a statement. "Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class.

"Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers' health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work. I am grateful to Secretary Solis for her steadfast commitment and service not only to the Administration, but on behalf of the American people. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors."

Her resignation comes amid other high-profile shifts at the top ranks of Obama's administration, including the upcoming resignations of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

She was one of four first term female cabinet secretaries. Solis' resignation just exasperates a diversity problem for the second term Obama cabinet. All four of the top cabinet jobs in the second term - State, Defense, Justice and Treasury - are expected to be occupied by males. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday "diversity is important" and said the administration is working to make sure it is diverse.

The administration is looking for a woman to serve as the next Commerce Secretary, two sources familiar with the nomination process told CNN. John Bryson resigned from the post in June, and the acting commerce secretary is Rebecca Blank.

A White House official said Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki are expected to stay in their current posts. The official did not give a timetable on how long the three might stay, but none of them is expected to depart in the near future.

Solis noted her accomplishments at the Labor Department in the letter, writing, "Growing up in a large Mexican-American family in La Puente, California, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to serve in a president's cabinet, let alone in the service of such an incredible leader."

"Because of our work, more people are receiving the wages they are owed," she wrote.

Solis also touted her work in relation to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Obama's health care law.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said after Solis' announcement that she "brought urgently needed change to the Department of Labor, putting the U.S. government firmly on the side of working families.

"Under Secretary Solis, the Labor Department became a place of safety and support for workers," he wrote. "Secretary Solis's Department of Labor talks tough and acts tough on enforcement, workplace safety, wage and hour violations and so many other vital services. Secretary Solis never lost sight of her own working-class roots, and she always put the values of working families at the center of everything she did."

Trumka urged the president to pick a successor who "will continue to be a powerful voice both within the Obama administration and across the country for all of America's workers."

Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, Solis was a congresswoman from California with a particular interest in environmental issues. She was the first Latina in the California State Senate, according to her official biography. She had also worked in the administration of President Jimmy Carter and in the federal Office of Management and Budget's Civil Rights Division.


Filed under: Hilda Solis
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Obama Blows

    Obama has upset yet someone else from his cabinet.

    January 9, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. eg

    family is more important

    January 9, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. empresstrudy

    His Obamadency hath decreed that henceforth no Cabinet officers shall express an opinion which has not issued forth from or been previously vetted by Axelrod, Jarrett or His Excellency, Himself. Anyone not on board with that program will be replaced.

    January 9, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. JCQueipo

    Hilda you will be missed !!

    January 9, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. JCQueipo

    You will be missed

    January 9, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. JCQueipo

    Maybe Mitt can bring Obama binders full of women !!

    January 9, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. DustyOnes

    Let's hope Sebelius and Holder leave. Holder should be indicted.

    January 9, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. adsfas

    This is good news? Another Obama hack that was stealing from the tax payers decided to leave.

    January 9, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. Sebelius should go! (and Patty Murray)

    Sebelius should go! She is living a lie. She calls herself Catholic, however, does not respect the lives of unborn children. Please resign and go to confession.

    While on the subject of people whe should go – Patty Murray. In an interview with Diana Sawyer recently she said that women in Congress do not want to keep talking about abortion, women in Congress want to get things done – Well Ms. Murray, have you ever thought how many more women could be in Congress if they were not aborted as babies in the womb!

    January 9, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. jkane sfl gop mascots the blubbering slobs allen west rover nitwitquest rick scott ,carl rove and donald dump ??????

    The dems continue to download and are just sick of trying to work with the gop goofball party which can't even work with it self and continue to be a national disgrace and joke to the world communication ,and then you have the crook gop pig lobbyist grover norquest ,( aka) rover nitwitquest who should be Hung from a light poll by the voters on k street ,lobbyist headquarters !!!!!

    January 9, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. paul teague

    These cabinet jobs are low-paying, and super high-stress. I am surprised anyone keeps them for a full 4 years, when they could make 10X the money with less stress in the private sector.

    January 9, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  12. asd;lkfjasd;lfkajsdf;asf

    @Obama Blows:

    You know, it's people like you who make me questions whether freedom of speech was really that great of an idea

    January 9, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. Portland tony

    Four years is enough as a political appointee. Time to get on with life!

    January 9, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. Jackson

    Before all the naysayers come in here and start talking smack, make sure you can compare and contrast the number of cabinet members that resigned in the second term of Bush, Clinton and Reagan as well.

    Thank you.

    January 9, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. Sour Diesel

    She went into labor and resigned.

    January 9, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. Jackson

    Sebelius should go! (and Patty Murray)

    Sebelius should go! She is living a lie. She calls herself Catholic, however, does not respect the lives of unborn children. Please resign and go to confession.

    While on the subject of people whe should go – Patty Murray. In an interview with Diana Sawyer recently she said that women in Congress do not want to keep talking about abortion, women in Congress want to get things done – Well Ms. Murray, have you ever thought how many more women could be in Congress if they were not aborted as babies in the womb!

    _____________

    The United States is not a theocracy. Your religious principles do not apply.

    Accept the hard truth.

    January 9, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. alfred

    You will be missed!

    January 9, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Mikoid

    "She was one of four first term female cabinet secretaries. Solis' resignation just exasperates a diversity problem for the second term Obama cabinet."

    Maybe "exacerbates"?

    January 9, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. brian in dc

    Good riddance. It's a useless position and hopefully it won't be filled by another useless individual.

    January 9, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. Darly314

    Good woman, good job.

    January 9, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. theotherhanddude

    Hilda was easily the most incompetent labor secretary in the common era.

    January 9, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. theotherhanddude

    I certainly won't be missing her. She's the most incompetent labor secretary of the common era.

    January 9, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. Tony A.

    Is she going back to Mexico? She could help a lot over there.

    January 9, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. Deez_Nts

    Wierd there has been so many people "stepping down" lately under Obama's administration..

    January 9, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Joe Crock

    Cant blame her for that........I'd rather work for an American.........

    January 9, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
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